Bible Study on True Repentance
I. The Definition of Repentance.
REPENTANCE: “Repentance unto life is a saving grace, whereby a sinner, out of a true sense of his sin, and apprehension of the mercy of God in Christ, doth, with grief and hatred of his sin, turn from it unto God, with full purpose of, and endeavor after, new obedience” (Shorter Catechism of the Westminster Assembly
“Repentance . . . is the true turning of our life to God, a turning that arises from a pure and earnest fear of Him; and it consists in the mortification of our flesh and of the old man, and in the vivification of the Spirit.” (John Calvin, Institutes of the Christian Religion,
II. Repentance in the Old Testament.
A. Read the following passages; Is. 58:5; Neh. 9:1; Joel 2:13. Which deeds are outward and which are inward?
B. Read the following passages and describe in your own words evidences of repentance found in each.
Jer. 26:3, 36:3
C. Read Ez. 18. Summarize the elements of true repentance you find in this chapter.
Repentance in the New Testament.
A. Greek words: Metanoia - a change of mind, (to change one’s mind for the better, heartily to amend with abhorrence of one’s past sins.) Luke 10:13.
Epistrophei - to turn to, to cause to return, to bring back, to turn one’s self about, conversion. Acts9:35.
B. Read Luke 15:11-24. Does the prodigal’s repentance involve regret only? Which aspects of the Prodigal’s repentance coincide with the Greek words above?
C. Read Eph. 5:8-14. What evidences of true repentance described in this passage would be absent in false repentance? Why?
IV. The Nature of Repentance.
A. Evangelical repentance always involves a true sense of sin. Read Ps. 51 and write down the verses which communicate a true sense of sin.
B. Repentance is turning from sin with grief and hatred for it. The following attitudes can be involved: loathing, mourning, sorrowing, indignation against sin, regretting and disgrace. Explain why repentance ought to make a true believer open to exhortation with a willingness to humbly receive correction (see Prov 9:8; 10:8; 27:6; 28:23; Ps 141:5)..
C. Repentance means that a person sees his sin for what it really is; defilement, ill desert, guilt -- and that his sin is against God. This is the knowledge of sin. (Rom. 1:32, 3:20). Is it possible to have a fear of punishment without a true knowledge of sin? Would that be false repentance? Why or why not?
D. Not only is a true sense of sin a root of all true repentance, but also the apprehension of mercy is vital to true repentance. Read Ps. 130 and Luke 15:17-20 and locate the words and phrases which hold out hope of mercy to the penitent.
E. God’s offers of mercy always accompany His calls to repentance. T or F
(See Joel 2:12, 13; Jer. 3:12-14; Is 55:7).
F. Why would each of the following attitudes fall short of true repentance:
1.) A deep sense of sin without a sense of mercy and forgiveness in Christ.
2.) A sense of mercy while suppressing feelings of conviction about sin.
G. (see Luke 15:11-32) Not only was the prodigal son convinced of the misery of his sin, but he also arose and went to his father, (back to his father’s mercy, ways and rules). Feeling convinced of sin only, falls short of a true repentance. A person must turn to God in His mercy, His ways, and His worship. T or F
H. Read Prov. 28:13 and identify two or more of the elements found in true repentance.
I. True repentance is an inward act, a spiritual turning and change which has external affects. Select one of the following three examples of a false, external repentance and explain why it falls short of true repentance:
The repentance of; 1.) King Saul, (1 Sam 24: 16-22); 2.) the repentance of King Ahab, (1 Kings21:25-29); 3.) the repentance of Judas, (Matt 27:3-5); note that the “sorrow of the world” bears a close relationship to false repentance (2 Cor. 7:8-11).
J. Repentance is not only a turning from sin but a movement of the soul to God. Read Ps. 51and locate two or more verses which demonstrate a CHANGE IN PURPOSE. (The turning is a disposition to seek pardon and cleansing and attachment to God.)
K. The fruits of repentance include a new bias against sin. This heart attitude is not passive but active. Daily choices are made to steer away from all sinful influences. Read Col. 3:1-11. What mental dispositions are described which show the new sin bias in action?
L. Read Rom. 13:14. Think of life situations that involve a provision for the flesh. How could these provisions be avoided before they are entered into?
M. Read 2 Cor. 7:8-11. Read verse eleven carefully. Explain how each of the action words describes the penitent’s new relationship toward sin.
V. The Recipients of Repentance.
A. According to Scripture which of the following are indispensable marks of salvation which must accompany true conversion in every case?
1.) tears; 2.) a total change in lifestyle; 3.) a crisis experience; 4.) an extended workof conviction by God’s law; 5.) immediate and sudden joy; 6.) knowing the exact day you were saved; 7.) none of the above.
B. Repentance is not a natural fear produced on fallen human nature by the law. It is a gift and demand of gospel grace. T or F
C. Is it possible for an individual to be a truly penitent unbeliever or to be an impenitent true believer? Why or why not?
D. Repentance is a gift of God’s grace. It is a plant that grows ONLY in the renewed soil of the regenerate heart.
T or F (See Acts 5:31, 11-18; 2 Tim 2:15)
VI. The Relationship of Faith to Repentance.
A. Repentance is a fruit of faith which itself is a fruit of regeneration.
T or F
B. In faith and repentance we see the new nature beginning to assert itself.
T or F
C. No man can repent unless he hates sin and loves holiness and that is impossible apart from SAVING FAITH. T or F
D. Without faith one cannot please God. Does that mean that the kind of repentance that is prior to faith does not please God? Yes or No
(See Heb. 11:6; Jn. 15:5; Rom. 14:23).
E. Repentance prior to faith is an attempt to find a way to the Father apart from Christ. T or F (SeeJn. 14:6).
F. The awakened conscience of a sinner can only be appeased by the justice of God at Calvary (Heb 9:14). Until the person and sacrifice of Christ are the object of trust, true repentance will not take place. T or F
G. Apart from the mercy found in the cross, the prospect of repenting of sin is hopeless. Which of the following phrases describe the impossible task of repenting outside of Christ. 1.) indifference will stupefy; 2.) remorse will torment; 3.) dread and fear will drive away; 4.) guilt will move to legal efforts of reformation.
How does the mercy found in the cross give us the courage and desire to repent? (See Acts 20:21; Jn. 3:16; Acts 26:18).
H. The roots of true repentance - True repentance is nourished by, and grows out of, two great convictions in a soul. Read the following verses before each question then fill in the blanks.
1.) Repentance involves a true sense of the guilt and wretchedness of
____________. Acts 2:37-38; Luke 15:21; Ps. 51:1-6.
2.) The second root of repentance involves the apprehension of God’s ____________ which is found in Christ Jesus. Mark 1:5; Joel 2:12-13; Jer. 3:22; Is. 55:7; Acts 9:35; 11:21.
I. Faith and repentance are joined. Read Zech. 12:10. Then write out some insights on why faith and repentance cannot be separated.
J. Repentance is permeated with trust in God and His Word. Read the following verses about turning from sin. Ezek. 18:30; Luke 15:18; Ps. 119:128. Now read the verses about turning to God. Acts 26:20; 1 Thess. 1:9; Ps. 110:59; Luke 15:20.
1.) In false repentance a man attempts to turn from sin but does not turn to God. T or F
2.) In false repentance the sinner is yet alive to the world and dead
to ________. Read Gal. 6:14; Eph. 2:1-3; 1 Jn. 2:15-17.
K. One of the fruits of true repentance is extreme watchfulness about falling into sin.
T or F
L. Though sometimes it is difficult to discern true repentance from false, in both types of repentance, the following will always be found: a passion and delight in spiritual things, joy in the promises of God, attraction to God’s holy nature. T or F
M. The false repenter is blind to the moral majesty (holiness) of God. T or F
N. The love of God STARTS with our affections perceiving the excellence of God’s nature. In the false repenter, self interest will always be primary. T or F
O. True believers are actually described as “partakers of the divine nature.” They have the Spirit of God forever united to their soul, literally communicating His holy nature in the saint. T or F (see 2 Pet 1:3, 4)
P. Once we’ve repented of sin, we never need to repent of sin again. T or F
Q. Ongoing repentance is absolutely necessary in the life of the true child of God. We could accurately define ongoing repentance as follows; it is the ongoing action of conforming and adjusting our affections and our will to the Word of God. T or F
R. False repentance takes pride in temporary “victory” over one sin. True repentance is God-ward, therefore true repentance is _________________, covering every area of the believer’s life.
S. False repentance is ultimately the sinner’s attempt to “manage” an accusing conscience. By contrast, true repentance is connected with taking delight in God’s nature, therefore true repentance is inseparable from loving God. Read Jude 21, then explain what it means to “keep yourselves in the love of God.”
T. The false repenter keeps his heart’s affections for self. He or she is primarily concerned about “outward” sins. Read Isaiah 6:3-5. Concerning true repentance, comment as to why there is trauma in knowing the God of holiness. Read Psalm 139:23, 24. In true repentance, we know God’s holiness by Scripture AND secondarily by experience -- describe the Psalmist’s willingness to have God’s holiness intrude upon his heart (Ps 139:23, 24). Why is the Psalmist’s attitude a mark of true repentance?